A migratory divide usually signals the presence of a geographical region over which other traits, such as morphology and genotypes, also undergo rapid change. A migratory divide has been hypothesized in central southern Africa for the abundant migratory weaver, the red-billed quelea Quelea quelea. The positioning of the divide in the region is based on the patterns of rainfall in the region that stimulate the annual migrations of queleas. Evidence indicates that premigratory queleas near the divide show two distinct preferred directions for migration. We used eight polymorphic microsatellite loci and a range of plumage characters to determine whether there was population structure among red-billed queleas in southern Africa, and specifically whether this structure coincided with the location of the migratory divide. There was no evidence of population genetic structure. An amova revealed no significant differences between samples taken either side of the migratory divide. Similarly, there was no geographical variation in plumage patterns across southern Africa. For both microsatellites and plumage characteristics, the variation that does exist occurs within each sampled site, with little differentiation between sites. We were therefore unable to find any evidence that either plumage or microsatellite genotypes varied in a similar way to migratory direction preference in red-billed queleas in southern Africa. This is perhaps because the migratory divide does not act to separate individuals into populations within which genetic and plumage differentiation can be maintained.
Molecular Ecology (2003) 12 (2) 345-353 [DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-294X.2003.01733.x]